Carkhuff: His Scale for Assessing Facilitative Interpersonal Counseling

Prepared by: Fran Eckstein, Linda Greene, Betty Sue Hinson, & Don Naiman


John J. Horan's Course on Counseling Theory



I. Purposes and. Rationale

This instructional product was designed to do two things: to provide a micro-unit for a professor to utilize in the classroom and to serve as a resource unit for individual study. Our major goal was to help clarify how Carkhuff discriminated between high (5) and low (1) level responses made by counselors to their clients. We have taped ten specific situations involving problems a counselor might encounter. Following each excerpt are four different counselor responses. They are rated according to their level of facilitative interpersonal functioning -- in other words, those responses which the client can make use of most effectively receive the highest ratings.

II. Facilitative Conditions

Carkhuff examined seven major characteristics he thought a facilitator should possess. The following material is taken from Carkhuff's book: Helping and Human Relations, Vol. I.

The facilitator is a person who is living effectively himself and who discloses himself in a genuine and constructive fashion in his response to others. He communicates an accurate empathic understanding and a respect for all of the feelings of other persons and. guides discussions with those persons into specific feelings and experiences. He communicates confidence in what he is doing and is spontaneous and intense. In addition, while he is open and flexible in his relations with others, in his commitment to the welfare of the other person he is quite capable of active, assertive, and even confronting behavior when it is appropriate.

A. Empathy: The ultimate purpose of the empathic response is to communicate to the client a depth of understanding of him and his predicament in such a manner that he can expand and clarify his own self-understanding as well as his understanding of others. The guidelines for empathy are: (1) the helper concentrates with intensity upon the client's expressions, both verbal arid non- verbal. (2) the counselor concentrates upon responses that are interchangeable with those of the client. (3) the counselor formulates his responses in language that is most attuned to the client. (4) the counselor responds in a feeling tone similar to that communicated by the client. (5) the counselor is most effective in communicating empathic understanding when he is most responsive, (6) the counselor moves tentatively toward expanding and clarifying the client's experiences at higher levels. (7) the counselor con- centrates upon what is not being said. (8) the counselor employs the client's behavior as the best guideline to assess the effective- ness of his responses.

B. Respect: The communication of respect to the client has several purposes: (1) to establish a relationship based upon trust and confidence in which the client can explore relevant concerns; (2) to establish a basis on which the client can come to respect himself in areas relevant to his effective functioning; (3) to establish a modality through which the client can, with appropriate discriminations, come to respect others in areas relevant to his own functioning. The guidelines for the communication of respect are as follows: (1) the counselor suspends all critical judgments concerning the client. (2) the counselor communicates to the client in at least minimally warm and modulated tones. (3) the counselor concentrates upon understanding the client. (4) the counselor gives the client the opportunity to make himself known in ways that might elicit positive regard from the counselor. (5) the counselor cormnunicates in a genuine and spontaneous manner,

C. Concreteness: The communication of concreteness enables the client both within and outside of therapy to deal specifically with all areas of personally relevant concern. The guidelines for the communication of concreteness are: (1) the counselor makes concrete his own reflections and interpretations. (2) the counselor emphasizes the personal relevance of the client's communications. (3) the counselor asks for specific details and. specific instances. the counselor relies upon his own experiences as a guideline uideline for determining whether concreteness is appropriate or not.

D. Genuineness and Self-Disclosure: Genuineness provides both the goal of helping and the necessary contextual base within which helping takes place. The dimension of self-disclosure serves a complementary role to genuineness. The guidelines for communication of these dimensions are as follows: (1) the counselor attempts to minimize the effects of his role, professional or otherwise. (2) the counselor communicates no inauthentic responses while fie demonstrates an openness to authentic ones. (3) the counselor increasingly attempts to be as open and free within the helping relationship as is possible. (4) the counselor can share experiences with the client as fully as possible, (5) the counselor can learn to make open-ended inquiries into the most difficult areas of his experience. (6) the counselor relies upon his experiences as the best guideline.

E. Confrontation: In order to enable the client to confront him- self and others effectively when appropriate, the counsel-or must confront the client for the following discrepancies in his behavior: discrepancies between the client's expression of who or what he wishes to be and how he actually experiences himself; discrepancies between the client's verbal expression of his awareness of himself and his observable or reported behavior; discrepancies between how the counselor experiences the client and the client's expression of his own experiences, The following guidelines may be ernployed in formulating confrontation responses: (1) the counselor concentrates upon the client's expressions., both verbal and non-verbal. (2) the counselor concentrates initially upon raising questions concerning discrepant communications from the client. (3) the counselor focuses

F. Immediacy: With regard to interpretation of the immediacy of the relationship, the key question is, "'what is the client really trying to tell me that he cannot directly tell me?" The guidelines for communication of immediacy are as follows: (1) the counselor concentrates on his own personal experience in the immediate moment (2) the counselor temporarily disregards for the moment the content of the client's expression. (3) the counselor employs the frustrating, directionless moments of helping to search the question of immediacy. (4) the counselor periodically sits back and searches the key question of' immediacy.

III. Discrimination Scale

Carkhuff further discriminated each of the characteristics above into finer levels of functioning. The following scale illustrates how this was done with "concreteness".






None of' these conditions are communicated. to any noticeable degree in the person

Some of' the conditions are communicated and some are not.

All of the conditions are communicated at a minimally facilitative level

All of the conditions are communicated, some fully.

All of the conditions are fully communicated simultaneously and continually

CONCRETENESS: A Scale for Measurement

Level 1

The counselor and the client discuss everything on strictly an abstract and highly intellectual level. The counselor makes no attempt to lead the discussion into the realm of personally 'relevant specific situations and feelings.

Level 2

The counselor and the client may discuss "real" feelings but they do so in an abstract, intellectual level. The counselor does not elicit discussion of most personally relevant feelings and experiences in specific and concrete terms.

Level 3

The counselor will help to make it possible for the discussion with the. client to center directly around most things that are personally important to the client, although there will continue to be areas not dealt with concretely and areas that the client o e not develop fully and specifically. 'This level constitutes f s the minimal level of facilitative functioning,.

Level 4

The counselor is able on many occasions to guide the discussion to specific feelings and experiences of personally meaningful material.

Level 5

The counselor involves the client in discussion of specific feelings, -situations, and events regardless of their emotional content. lie facilitates a direct expression of all personally relevant feelings and experiences in concrete and specific terms.

IV. Client - Counselor Interactions (on tape)

We have taped ten excerpts in which clients present various situations that a counselor may have to deal with. Four different responses are given for each excerpt. 'The responses have been rated to the level of facilitative conditions offered by the counselor, plus how skillful the counselor is in offering responses which the client can further develop and inquire into. This lost variable is called "action orientation". Thus, the four possible combinations of response levels are, from the most to the least desirable:


High Responsive

High Action













The ten excerpts are written below. 'The ratings for the first six follow each excerpt. Try to give an overall rating for 7 and 8. For 9 and 10, attempt to rate both responsive and action qualities, as well as provide an overall rating.

Excerpt # 1

Those people! Who do they think they are? I can't stand being around them anymore. They're just a bunch of phonies. They make me so frustrated! So anxious. I get angry -it myself. I don't even want to be bothered with them anymore. I just I could be honest with -,.hem, and. tell them all to go to hell! but I guess I just can't do it.

a. They really make you very angry. You wish you could them more effectively than you do. *HR LA 3.0

b. Damn, they make you furious! But it's just not them. It's with yourself, too, because you don't act on how you feel. *HR HA 4.0

c. Why do you feel these people are phony? what do they say to you? *LR LA 1.0

d. Maybe society itself is at fault here-making you feel inadequate, giving you this negative view of' yourself, leading, you to be unable to successfully interact with others. *LR HA 1.5

Excerpt #2

I'm so thrilled to have found a counselor like you. I didn't know any existed. You seem to understand me so well. it's just great. I feel like I'm coming alive again. I have not felt like this in so long.

a. Gratitude is a natural emotion. *LR LA 1.0

b. This is quite nice but remember, unless extreme caution is exercised, you -may find yourself moving in the other direction. *LR HA 1.0

c. That's a good feeling. *HR LA 3.0

d. Hey, I'm as thrilled to hear you talk this way as you are! I'm pleased that I have been helpful. I do think we still have some work to do yet, though. *HR HA 4.0

Excerpt # 3

It's not an easy thing to talk about. I guess the heart of' it is sort of a sexual problem. I never thought I would have this sort of problem. But I find. myself not getting the fulfillment I used to. It's not as enjoyable for my husband either, although e ok forward to making love. don't discuss it. I used to enjoy and look forward to making love. I used to have an orgasm but I don't anymore. I can't remember the last time I was satisfied. I find myself being attracted to other men and wondering what it would be like to go to bed with them. I don't know what this means. is this just a symptom of our whole relationship as a marriage? Is something wrong with me or us?

a. perhaps you feel your marriage and role of' mother is holding you back and preventing you from being something else you want to be. Your resentment here against your husband is manifested in your frigidity. Perhaps it is your way of paying him back for keeping you down in this role, for confining you, for restricting you *LR HA 1.5

b. What about your relationship with your husband, his role as father and companion? *LR LA 1.5

c. You don't quite know what to make of all this but you know something is dreadfully wrong and you are determined to find out for yourself, for your marriage. *HR HA 3.5

d. What's happened between you and your husband has raised a lot of questions about you, about him, about your marriage. *HR LA 3.0

Excerpt # 4

I get so frustrated and furious with my daughter know what to do with her. She's bright and sensitive, but damn, she has some characteristics that make me so on edge. I can It handle it sometimes. She just—I feel getting more and more angry I She won't do what you tell her, to. She tests limits like mad. I scream and yell and lose control and think there is something wrong with. Me—I'm not an Understanding mother or something. Damn I What potential! What she could do with what she has. There are — times she doesn't use what she's got She gets by too cheaply. I just don't know what to do with tier. Then she can be so nice and then, boy, she can be as ornery as she can be. And. then I scream and yell and I'm about ready to slam tier across the room. I don't like to feel this way. I don't know what to do with it.

a. So you find yourself screaming and yelling at your daughter more frequently during the past three months. *LR LA 1.0

b. Why don't you try giving your daughter some very precise limitations. Tel l her what you expect from her and what you don't expect from her. No excuses. *LR HA I.5

c. While she frustrates the hell out of you, what you are really asking is, "How can I help her? how can I help myself, particularly in relation to this kid?" *HR HA 4.0

d. While she makes you very angry, you really care what happens to her. *HR LA 3.0

Excerpt #5

No response. (Moving about in chair.)

a. You can't really say all that you feel at this moment. *HR HA 3.5

b. A penny for your thoughts. *LR LA 1.5

c. Are you nervous? Maybe you haven't made the progress here we hoped for. *LR HA 1.5

d. You just don't know what to say at this moment. HR LA 3.0

Excerpt # 6

Who do you think you are? You call yourself a therapist? Damn! here I am spilling my guts out and all you do is look at the clock. You don't hear what I say. Your responses are riot attuned to what I'm. saying. I never heard of such therapy. You are supposed to be helping me . You are so wrapped up in your world you don't hear a thing I'm saying. You don't give me the time. The minute the hour is up you push me out the door whether I have something important to say or not. I—uh—it makes me so goddamn mad.

a. You are suggesting I'm wrapped up in myself. Do you think that perhaps, in fact, this is your problem? *LR HA 1.0

b. I'm only trying to listen to you. Really, I. think we are making a whole lot of progress here *LR LA 1.0

c. You are pretty displeased with what has been going on here. *HR LA 3.0

d. All right, you are furious, but I wonder if it's all mine or is there something else eating you. *HR HA 3.5

Excerpt # 7

I'm really excited! I'm going to California. Ito going to have a second. lease on life. I found a marvelous job! It's great! It's so great. I can't believe it's true—it's so great! I'm going to be a secretary. I can be a mother and can have a part- job which I think I'm really going to like. I can be home when the kids get home from school. It's too good to be true. It's so exciting. So much to look forward to. I just can't wait to get started. It's great!

a. Don't you think you are biting off a little bit more than you can chew? Don't you think that working and taking care of the children will be a little bit too much? Dow does your husband feel about this? *LR HA (1.5)

b. Hey, that's a mighty good feeling. You are on your way now. Even though there are some things you don't know along the way, it's just exciting to be gone. *HR HA (3.0)

c. Let me caution you to be cautious in your judgement. Don't be too hasty. Try to got settled first. *LR LA (1.0)

d. It's a good feeling to contemplate doing these things. * HR LA (3.0)

Excerpt # 8

Gee, I'm so disappointed. I thought we could net along together and you could help me. We don't seem to be waiting anywhere. You don't understand me. Lou don't know Tim here. I don't even think you care for me. You Unit hear me when I talk. Lou seem to be somewhere else. four responses are independent of anything I have to say. I don't know where to turn. I'm so—doggone it—I don't know what I'm going to do, but I know you can't help me. There just is no hope.

a. I have no reason to try and not to help you. I have every reason to want to help you. *LR LA (1.0)

b. Only when we establish mutual understanding and trust and only then can we proceed to work on your problem effectively. *LR HA (1.0)

c. It's disappointing and disillusioning to think you nave made so little progress. *HR LA (3.0)

d. I feel badly that you feel that way. I do want to help. I'm wondering, "is it me? is it you, both of us?" ban we work something out? *HR HA (3.5)

Excerpt # 9

I finally found somebody I can really get along with. There's no pretentiousness about them at all. They're real and they under- me. I can be myself with them. I don't have to worry about what I say and that they might take me wrong, because I do sometimes say things that don't come out the way I want them to. I don't have to worry that they are going to criticize me. They are just marvelous people. I just can't wait to be with the For once I* really enjoy going out and being among people I didn't think I'd ever find people like this again. I can really be myself. it's such a wonderful feeling g not to have people criticizing you for everything you say that doesn't agree with g them. They are warm and understanding, and - I just love them!

  1. Sounds like you found someone who really matters to you. *__ __ __ (HR LA 3.0)
  2. Why do these kind of people accept you? *__ __ __ (LR LA I.0)
  3. That a real good feeling to have someone to trust and share with. "Finally, I can be myself." *__ __ __ (HR HA 4.0)
  4. Now that you have found these people who enjoy you and whom you enjoy, spend your time with these people. forget about the other types who make you anxious. Spend your time with the people who can understand and be warm with you. *__ __ __ (LR LA 1.5)

Excerpt # I0

I don't know if' I'm right or wrong feeling the way I do. But I find myself withdrawing from people. I don't seem to socialize and play their stupid little games any more, I get upset and come home depressed and have headaches. it will seems so superficial. There was a time when I used to g et along everybody. Every- said, "isn't he wonderful he gets along with everybody. Everybody likes him." I used to think that was something to be really proud of', but that was who I was at that time. I had no d e p t h . I was what tile crowd wanted me to be—the particular group I Was With.

  1. You know you have changed a lot. There are a lot of' things you want to do but no longer can. * __ __ __ (HR LA 3.0)
  2. You are damned sure who you can't be any longer but you are not sure who you are. Still hesitant as to who you protect. * __ __ __ (HR HA 4.0)
  3. Who are these people that make you so angry? Why don't you tell them where to get off! They can't control your existence. You have to be your own person. * __ __ __ (LR HA 1.5)
  4. So you have a social problem involving interpersonal difficulties with others. * __ __ __ (LR LA 1.5).


V. Conclusions

The overall ratings are biased in favor of the level of responsive conditions. The HR-LA response generally received a rating of 3.0, while LR-HA received a 1.5 rating. This implies that the responsive dimensions are the necessary but not sufficient conditions for constructive change in the client. Adding the action oriented dimension further increased the effectiveness of the interpersonal functioning. "without high levels of understanding then, directionality, is meaningless. [p. 125]."

These ratings are more specific in nature than man scales which are used to rate the level of communication from counselor-to-client As potential counselors, you may be asked to rate these situations. Your deviation from the ratings of experts determines your level of discrimination


Carkhuff, R. R. (1969). Helping and human relations: a primer for lay and professional helpers. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.